Monday, April 21, 2008

Deja Vu All Over Again

I got justifiably chided by a couple of people at the City Club lunch today for being lax in my blogging, so here you go:

Despite the fact that he was at the groundbreaking for the new Children's Memorial Hospital today, the Governor was apparently unable to find any kids to use as human shields to protect him from the press. So instead, he went to his fall-back plan to explain the dysfunctionality that surrounds him - blaming the House Democrats.
The governor called on the House to pass his plan to expand health-care coverage to all Illinoisans, approve a capital construction program and increase controls on guns amid a spate of violence in the city’s neighborhoods.

“We wish the General Assembly and especially the House would be less obstructionist and be more willing to embrace health care for children, health care for working families,” Blagojevich said.

He then went on with comments which sounded pretty long as you're not concerned about letting little things like facts get in the way of a good pitch. Among the victories that the Governor touted was his expansion of health insurance coverage (just not the part blocked by the court, I guess) and “fighting those who want to raise taxes” (except those who propose a $7Billion gross receipts taxes, that is).

But it was when he was pressed about a number of issues that haven't been accomplished that the Governor started building the straw man, stating,

“When you consider the dynamics, I think we’ve made a lot of progress. It could be a heck of a lot more harmonious, though, if those Democrats in the House stand for what they say they’re for.”

The Governor then inexplicably cited the specific issues of the lack of a capital bill and the failure of recent gun safety bills in the House as examples of those Damn House Democrats (DHDs) keeping Illinois from moving forward.

As far as a capital bill is concerned, the last time I checked, neither chamber has been able to identify a funding source that it can pass, be it gaming, the lottery, leasing the mansion, or anything else that they can come up with.

But what is most problematic about the Governor trying to jacket the DHDs for the lack of a capital bill is that the greatest obstacle to passing such a bill is the lack of trust by legislators of the Governor. In at least 3 of the 4 caucuses, there is no confidence that the Governor's office would actually release the agreed-upon projects. (see MOUs). If you think that this concern is unfounded, ask any of the 17 schools in my (his) district that are still waiting for their money for books and computers that was included in last year's budget, but which the Administration refuses to release. Our students falling behind? Blame the DHDs.

It was the Governor's use of the gun issue though that showed that pre-season is over and that he's in game shape. Throwing truth to the wind, the Governor, with a straight face from what I hear, blamed House Democrats for the failure of a bill that would require background checks for private gun sales. Kids getting killed? Blame those DHDs.

But wait a second. As is turns out, the vote on the bill was 58-58-0, two votes short of passage. And out of those 58 votes, do you know how many were cast by those DHDs? FIFTY-TWO. That's how many. 52 of the 58 (of the 118).

But there's more. (There's always more). Part of being Governor is the ability to lead and to get things done. You know, help pass laws when they're for something that you're really committed to. During his tenure, the Governor has had a handful of loyalists among the DHDs upon whom he could reliably count on to support his position. (Ignore the GRT vote, nobody was going to vote for that.)

Now I mentioned above that the gun legislation about which the Governor is so passionate (actually not so much when he's downstate, but that's another issue), fell just two votes short of passage. So how did the Governor's stalwarts vote? Granberg: No; Hoffman: No; Phelps; No; Reitz: No. Now, I am in no way faulting any of these individuals for their respective votes, but rather am pointing out the fact that the Governor's statements inherently show him to be either insincere or ineffective, take your pick.

Suffice it to say that it doesn't bode well for a productive, let alone timely, session if the Governor is already in demonizing mode, which he apparently is. So if session is still going on in August, you'll know who to blame. And it's not the DHDs.

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